Friday, November 21, 2008

Lesson Thanksgiving: The Menu

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash--My practice run for this year

I want to write about Thanksgiving because I feel it fits perfectly with my goals of cooking Le Cordon Bleu AT HOME. As mentioned going in to it, French food wasn't the primary draw. Instead the draw being learning the best techniques to apply to all my other cooking, although I am feeling a slow conversion and growing aversion to French food and cooking.

For Thanksgiving I am hoping to use the following things that I have learned from LCB to improve the meal I serve for my family:

1. Roasting--I am going to roast the turkey, as I always do, however I hope the practice will continue to improve the end results.
2. I am going to cook the dish Petits Pois a la Francaise--SPRING PEAS WITH LETTUCE, CHERVIL, AND ONIONS from Lesson 1. I think this will make an excellent dish to go with the Thanksgiving meal. I will not bother with pearl onions because I liked my white onion substitute and know they are easy to find and easy to work with.
3. I will be making stock use with a recipe I created for roasted butternut squash soup that I called "Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Soup". Last year I used chicken stock, but I may make vegetable stock so that I can have the flexibility to make it vegetarian if desired.
4. Successfully use a liaison to thicken a sauce--gravy.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of the food, I LOVE IT! I also really enjoy the entertaining and the family. I began hosting Thanksgiving meals about 8 years ago in college because I forgot to bring leftovers back from home. I had a friend who worked at a grocery store pick up a turkey for really cheap and had everyone bring over dishes that they prepared. We filled our living room with tables and had a great time (word is one of my roommates met his wife at one of these meals).

The first Thanksgiving after my wife and I bought our house, we hosted our families for Thanksgiving. This was in part to make it so we only had to travel for Christmas rather than for both Christmas and Thanksgiving, and so that we could have extra help with fixing up our house (having 15 extra hands to clean up the yard, paint doors, and repair many items was a huge help).

Now that we have moved to be close to our family, we have been hosting Thanksgiving so that I can continue to cook and because we have a place that is big enough for everyone to get together.

Our menus usually have similarities, however we try to add something new or different each year, with varying degrees of success. Two of my students are taking French class at the local community college, so I asked them to translate my meal into French, to go on blog.  In fact, I also found the Nov. 12 post at Easy French Food to be helpful as well.  Here is the menu that I think we will be cooking this year:


Lesson Thankgiving



Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Soup


Grandma's Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Fat


Roasted Turkey with Herbs


Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing



Cranberry Sauce






Homemade Apple Pie

My own thoughts and notes go a little like this: I like to stuff the turkey (I have read much of the don'ts on this one but love the moisture and flavor) and cook some separately as well. Grandma's Sweet Potatoes-I don't know exactly what she does to them, but I like the flavor...not overly sweet. She slices them diagonally and there is word that she fries them in bacon fat that she collects all year. These are served warm or cold and are a great topping for leftover turkey sandwiches or paninis. Pie-homemade apple pie, pumpkin and mince meat pie. We usually buy the last two, and my wife and I took over making the apple pie last year from one of my grandmothers. We are improving in our pie making and will probably be doing more baking this year than in the past. Apple pies turned out well last year, as I think we made about 8 apple pies between Thanksgiving and Christmas for three of use to eat. This year I hope to try pumpkin pie (although I had a previous bad experience with pumpkin so am not really a huge fan of the flavor). Can't forget the cranberry sauce and gravy!

I want to post again about Thanksgiving and my use of the things that I have learned from the first three lessons. In addition, I am not planning to cook Lesson 4 until the week after Thanksgiving. I am planning to host my coworkers who selected Lesson 4 as a meal they would eat, and we can't get together until then because of our schedules.

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